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Q&A: Alternative artist Diane Coffee to perform this Thursday at the Bishop Bar



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The Bloomington-based alternative singer-songwriter Shaun Fleming, who plays under the stage name Diane Coffee, will perform 9:30 p.m. Thursday at the Bishop Bar.

Coffee recently released his new album “Internet Arms” April 19. His new album, though reflecting the some of his signature style from his last album, “Everybody’s a Good Dog,” has more futuristic sounds and the themes in the record focus on technology’s role in society, Coffee said.

His performance at the Bishop will be the second stop on a nationwide tour to advertise the new album and showcase some of his older music.

Tickets for this event are $10 online at the Bishop Bar's website and $12 at the door.

Responses have been edited for brevity and clarity.

IDS: How would you describe the personal sound of the band, and what is unique about it?

Fleming: Well, I think Diane Coffee is kind of ever-changing with each record. You know, this one, I would call it digital glam. I don’t know, I think it embraces a lot of current pop production and synthetic sounds of what’s happening right now. But along with some hints of ’70s glam or ’60s soul which I think is pretty unique.

That kindof goes along with my second question. So, you just released your new album on April 19. What can people expect from this album?

There were a few stories about technology that I came across in the early stages of writing the album that piqued my interest and raised a lot of questions for me and ultimately set a lot of the themes on the album. This album’s asking questions more than making definitive statements about tech and making comparisons to what we’re experiencing today but within a digital world as a backdrop.

What are some of these questions the album asks?

Like, whether or not we’ve pushed the boundaries too far when it comes to us integrating tech into our lives. Stuff like that. Like, asking the question: How far do we want to push AI? How much control we want to hand over?

This is still within the realm of science fiction, as well, too. Like, I’m not anti-tech by any means. I think there’s a lot of good that technology has given us, but I think it’s something that we should be cognizant about and thinking about.

So, specifically from your previous album to this one, how has the style of the music changed?

Sounds are cleaner, I’m using a lot more synths, there’s less guitar. It’s more of a glistening pop sound with this record.

So, your album is very central to your theme of technology. What made you come up with that idea for the album?

It wasn’t one particular thing. I mean, I had come across a couple stories, on like TED Talks and things like that. Have you ever heard of deepfakes? So, it’s like this technology that’s out there that is sort of like a more defined Face Swap, like the thing you got on your Snapchat, but it’s a lot more intense.

You can pour in all of these pictures from social media or these videos and it will take the audio and the video and you can place someone else’s face and voice on top of your own and it’s sort of been used a lot in kind of weird parts of the dark web.

Like perpetuating the fake news narrative by using videos of someone like Hillary Clinton saying some stuff she has never actually said, but it looks and sounds exactly like the person.

That technology is continuing to advance and it just really shook me to the core. I was like, “Wow, we have kind of reached this new precipice and not too many people are talking about it.” So that was like one of the first things and then just how, you know, I think everyone is aware that we’re maybe not socializing in the same way that we used to.

Everyone’s pretty glued to their phones these days and I don’t necessarily think that that’s a bad thing, but it’s something that I have noticed being of the age where I remember half my life not having anything like that and then half my life with.

On your website it says that Diane Coffee has been described as “the gender and genre-bending alter ego” for Shaun Fleming. How does this genre and gender-bending play into your music and your live performances?

For me, Diane Coffee is less of an alter-ego and more of a magnified piece of myself. To me, Diane Coffee is the embodiment of the performer. It’s a way to name a feeling, an amplified piece of my being, an energy that we’ve all experienced.

I mean, you might be a shy reserved kid at home, but when you’re going to a sold-out show, you lose yourself. You scream, you sway and sometimes you completely lose yourself and it takes over. When I’m on stage, that’s the energy that is Diane Coffee. That’s what I embody, and I become Diane in that moment.

So, we kind of already talked about this a little bit, but what can Bloomington expect from your performance at the Bishop Bar?

A lot of theatrics, a great light show – which is something I don’t think the Bishop usually sees – and it’s a home show, so there’s going to be a lot of love and a lot of excitement and I’m sure a great bit of positive energy.

Is there anything you would like to say to the people looking to attend the show?

I hope that they enjoy. I am really looking forward to playing to my home. And, let’s get silly. Let’s have a good time!

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